After enjoying a year of solid success on the defensive line, Trojan fans look ahead to 2012 and beyond and change their once-optimistic tune to one of worry. Two seniors departed in DaJohn Harris and Christian Tupou, one left for the NFL early in Nick Perry and two more will leave after this season in junior ends Wes Horton and Devon Kennard.
But rather than assume the worst, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is undoubtedly on top of all incoming linemen.
One such player is early enrollee DeVante Wilson. Wilson, who greyshirted last season because of a knee injury that forced him to undergo surgery, is finally at USC. It's been a long process for the defensive end from Corona (Calif.) Corona Senior High. During this past Fall, he would take the train a few times a week just to spend time with his teammates and do rehabbing.
Wilson is not fully healthy yet, however, and doesn't plan to be cleared for spring ball. He said he expects he'll be ready to play next Fall, but the time advantage of enrolling early will be somewhat lost on Wilson, at least physically. Clearly he has already bonded well with his teammates and is adjusting to college life. Now it's just a matter of getting him on the field.
Another early enrollee in Morgan Breslin, a defensive end from Diablo Valley (Calif.) College, was a great--and swift--pickup for the Trojans. Originally a UCLA commit, Breslin switched to the Trojans at the last minute and is currently enrolled. His experience at a junior college and mental reps he'll take with the Trojans in spring ball should get him on the field early.
Another potential player on the Trojans' front four is Pio Vatuvei out of Patterson (Calif.) Patterson High. The 6-2, 272-pound athlete can play end or tackle, a versatility which will be essential for the Trojans as they try to replace their departed players.
A couple of players look to be out of the mix in Ellis McCarthy, a UCLA commit and Aziz Shittu, a likely Stanford commit although he maintains that USC is high on his list. And Tyriq McCord, a defensive end out of Tampa (Fl.) will take a visit to USC this weekend. Another Florida lineman, in end Leonard Williams, has serious interest in USC.
Regardless of the new recruits USC brings in, the combination of Wilson, Breslin and Vatuvei is a solid trio with plenty of upside.